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The Ruby Programming Language Paperback – Feb 4 2008
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About the Author
Yukihiro Matsumoto ("Matz"), the creator of Ruby, is a professional programmer who worked for the Japanese open source company, netlab.jp. Matz is also known as one of the open source evangelists in Japan. He's released several open source products, including cmail, the emacs-based mail user agent, written entirely in emacs lisp. Ruby is his first piece of software that has become known outside of Japan.
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Top Customer Reviews
I worked with Ruby and Ruby on Rails for over a year and several years of other programming languages, but I never really delved into the Ruby language itself. I was just picking up different tricks here and there along the way. I was able to get stuff done, but I felt like I was missing the big picture. This book was perfect for my need in building my Ruby understanding ground-up.
This is not a beginner's book on programming. This book might not even be the best book to begin programming in Ruby. This position is clarified by Matz and Flanagan early on in the book.
"It is easy to program in Ruby, but Ruby is not a simple language. Because this book documents Ruby comprehensively, it is not a simple book (though we hope that you find it easy to read and understand). It is intended for experienced programmers who want to master Ruby and are willing to read carefully and thoughtfully to achieve that goal."
The book assumes intermediate knowledge in programming and object oriented programming in general. In order to fully appreciate the book, it's best if you are already an experience programmer.
If you are a beginner looking to get started, do not buy this book.
I'd recommend giving this book a read even if you've written full Rails apps in the past. There's lots of useful information in this book.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
As of the start of 2008 this book is REALLY fresh and up to date. Its style is very direct and matter-of-fact; well suited for existing Ruby developers and proficient developers coming from other languages. The examples are clear and logical and the explanations concise; this is a well edited and authoritative book.
The structure of the book is a delight with ten well-defined chapters (with titles such as Reflection and Metaprogramming, Statements and Control Structures, and Expressions and Operators) that each contain a tree of sections. Consider Chapter 4, Expressions and Operators. A sample dive down to section 188.8.131.52 takes us through 4.5, Assignments; 4.5.5, Parallel Assignment; and finally to 184.108.40.206, One lvalue, multiple rvalues. This is a breath of fresh air in a Ruby reference work.
The only downside, in terms of the thousands who might be browsing Amazon looking for a single Ruby book to start off with, is that this book is so well focused on documenting the core elements of the Ruby language, it doesn't work either as a tutorial / beginner's introduction to Ruby, or as an exhaustive reference work (as, on both fronts, the Pickaxe attempts to be.) This lack of dilution may be an ultimate strength, however, since anyone above the station of "beginner" will be able to learn Ruby thoroughly from this book, use it as a general reference, and then be able to use the exhaustive documentation that comes with Ruby itself to cover the standard library and built-in classes.
In conclusion, whether you're an existing developer or a newcomer to Ruby, you need just three things to be up and running with Ruby in the book / documentation department. Buy this, the Ruby Way (by Hal Fulton), and learn how to use the documentation that comes with Ruby.
This book will act as the "Bible" for Ruby, the Ruby Way will make you an expert, and learning how to use the documentation that comes with Ruby will mean you're not using information that's out of date within a couple of years. The perfect combo! It'll last you for years.
02. Structure of Ruby Programs
03. Datatypes & Objects
04. Expressions & Operators
05. Statements & Control Structures
06. Methods, Procs, Lambdas, Closures
07. Classes & Modules
08. Reflection & Metaprogramming
09. Ruby Platform
10. Ruby Environment
Logically laid out, wonderful writing, clear and concise examples with a length that is 'just right' (this is so hard to not find bloated books) this is perfect for those that know some Ruby and/or programming in general. If you are new to software development, this book probably is NOT for you as it's not a "learning" text. There are other Ruby books that cover said topic though so make sure to pick those up as well.
Awesome job O'Reilly for this relatively new and fast growing language that is used on the web and wherever you want!!
***** HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
If I could forget the whole thing, just so I could read it again, I would. It is that good.
After finishing reading this book I can say that there are a lot of topics that I really don't remember anymore and lots of doubts that I still have. The major flaw here is that there are no exercises anywhere in the book. All the best programming books I read in the past have very good exercises to evaluate what you've learned (I could give as examples Learning Perl, C++ Programming Language, Core Java, etc). I think that without exercising what you learned it's really hard to judge how much you have really learned.
Another thing which is not described in the book is how to organize a big project. I'm used to working in large projects in C and C++ and I really have no idea of how to organize a large project in Ruby, how to organize classes in files, etc. I will start studying Rails now, and will get the Rails code and read it to make sense of how to organize a large project but be aware that this is not described here.
Also some sections of the book, are really "dry", like the one who talks about functional programming which is really hard to follow (this one is the first that came to my mind but there are a lot of sections which are hard to follow or don't make a lot of sense when reading first time). These sections are clearly targeted at advanced Ruby programmers.
I'll rate this book with 4 stars because despite the flaws I mentioned, the explanation of the language in general is really good.
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